How to handle it when your travel companion is a stingy tipper

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What's the tipping etiquette when you've got a companion who's not into it?

Rob Kitchin

What’s the tipping etiquette when you’ve got a companion who’s not into it?

Q: I am a tipper. I like to tip. Whenever I go away with my partner, who keeps hold of the money because I am hopeless on holiday, he often forgets to leave something so I have to remind him at the end of every coffee, drink and meal.

But even when he does tip, it’s not always 10 per cent – so I then have to prod him to make up the difference, or scramble around for my own coins to add to his.

I just don’t get it; he’s not tight at all but this is one thing that he gets really stubborn about – and it’s not because of bad service. Do I have to resign myself to being the money handler? 

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A: Tipping is one of those societal conventions that seems almost expressly designed to sabotage social accord and bulldoze bonhomie.

What sadistic mind decreed that we conclude a romantic evening for two or a family celebration by bickering over basic arithmetic, urgently fumbling in our pockets for coinage and wincing as the waitress starts unsmilingly to clear the table? Diners are doomed to exit the restaurant either convinced they have left too much, or too little. 

Dining abroad, such unwelcome post-cappuccino maths becomes even more traumatic.

As visitors we are already on the back foot, feeling much more exposed to the humiliation of either being taken for a total tourist mug, or vociferously berated across a piazza for being stingy tourist scum. And when your own personal tipping policy differs from that of your travel companion, well, you’ve got a recipe for serious indigestion.

I’m definitely a fan of adopting the “kitty” approach to cash when travelling with a close companion, whereby friends, lovers and family members all contribute the same sum to the pot, and kitty picks up the tab for the duration of the break. 

Before you surrender the purse strings to your companion, however, a tipping policy is a crucial aspect of the prenup negotiations. Tipping practices really do vary from country to country, however. In Iceland, 15 per cent is added to the bill automatically, for example.

Do some Googling, and ask a local what they typically tip. Then stick to that particular percentage, like glue. Consider filling a separate purse with change and smaller notes, effectively a tipping purse, so you never run out of cash to do the deed. 

When in doubt, remember that it’s always best to overtip.

Holidays are all about pretending to be rich for a bit. Splashing a few surplus coins around is just part of the experience. And I know I’m much more comfortable feeling like I’ve screwed myself over (hey, I’m used to this) than worrying that I’ve screwed over that nice waitress who brought extra bread.

For me, stinginess leaves a sour taste in the mouth. And that’s no way to round off a nice meal. 


 – The Telegraph



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